Rheilffordd arfordir gogledd Cymru: Hysbysfwrdd

19 May 2020


These mugs were sold on the Farewell Specials in 2000, and 20 years later we still use them for our early-morning tea every day.- Charlie

Forthcoming events

(see also our Calendar page for venues)

Note:  we have removed all entries up to the end of May as the events are cancelled.

June 2020

Saturday 27 June Steam at Chester The Cheshireman (Railway Touring Company).    60163 London Euston - Chester and return.

July 2020

Sunday 19 July Steam on the Coast North Wales Coast Express (Railway Touring Company)  Liverpool - Manchester - Holyhead (15:05 - 17:40).

Tuesday 21 July Steam on the Coast The Welsh Mountaineer (Railway Touring Company) Preston - Blaenau Ffestiniog and return

August 2020

September 2020

Saturday 5 September Steam at Chester 'The Cheshireman' (Railway Touring Company). Norwich to Chester. Loco 6233 for part of the journey.


On 13 May 2004,  43 068 leads 43 121 across the Dee bridge at Chester working the 08:40 London Euston to Holyhead. Picture by Tim Rogers.

Editorial note

This is a week of anniversaries: below we remember the events of 20 May 2000, and the next issue, on Friday morning 23 May, will be a special issue about the Britannia Bridge fire of 1970.

Now that in England it is allowed to make longer excursions, next week we'll  be re-starting some coverage of the current and recent scene, including trips made under Welsh rules. Life must be even more confusing than usual for the residents of Boundary Lane, Saltney where the border runs along the middle of the street!

The 37 Farewell Special  - by Ian Bowland

First North Western, in conjunction with Railway Magazine (and Charlie!), ran commemorative trains on Saturday and Sunday 20 and 21 May, 2000 to mark the passing of class 37 haulage. Images from Saturday.

For various reasons, the Class 37/4 locos normally used on the North Wales turns were not used.  On 20 May, 37 029 and 37 379 Ipswich WRD quality approved arriving in platform 12 at Crewe. Today, 37 029 is preserved at the Epping Ongar Railway which operated on what was  at one time part of the London Underground.

The train stopped at Llandudno Junction where DRS locos 37 608 and 37 612 hooked up to the rear.

Arrival at Llandudno.

Ready to depart for Blaenau Ffestiniog, 37 029 and 37 379 were detached at Llandudno Junction.

Arrival at Blaenau where the two 37's were removed from the train to run round.

The dramatic backdrop at Blaenau.

The train paused at Llandudno Junction before proceeding to Holyhead with 608 leading.

Holyhead where 37  029 and 37 379 were waiting.

On the way in we passed coastal regular 37 420 The Scottish Hosteller.

 Arrival at Holyhead where 37 029 and 37 379 were attached to the rear of the train while 612 and 608 were removed.

Returning from Holyhead, the train paused at Chester before taking the route through Altrincham,  then Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly, Warrington Bank Quay and on to Crewe.

Arrival at Crewe where the "flowers in the rain" just about summed up the weather for the day - it had not been kind but then who cared? It had been a most remarkable day and there was yet more to come.

Class 37 Farewell Special - pictures by Ken Robinson

I went to a gloomy Blaenau Ffestiniog that day to see the train and took several photos using a 400ASA film.  Above: 37 612 and 37 608 soon after arrival at Blaenau Ffestiniog, and seen here running round its train - the 11:09 from Llandudno.  [Your editor was among the crowd behind the wall.]

37 608 and 37 612 proceeding to the other end of the station - there were many passengers and local enthusiasts around  - the weather was described as 'what you normally experience at Blaenau'!

37 608 and 37 612 depart Blaenau Ffestiniog with the penultimate leg of the special train, to Llandudno Junction.

View a refurbished version of our original report on the day, with pictures from a number of our contributors. (Apologies for the quality of some of the image, which have only survived in a 400 pixel-wide condition.)

Twenty Years Ago - pictures by Chris Morrison

Four images from 13 May 2000. Above,  EWS-liveried 37 415 heads the 14: 54 Holyhead-Crewe south of Valley.

Deltic 55 019 Royal Highland Fuslier heads a return Holyhead - Crewe via Leeds Deltic Preservation Society tour south of Valley..

101 676 forms a Holyhead-Llandudno local heading away from the camera at Valley.

37 429 Eisteddfod Genedlaethol passes construction work for the A55 road on the approach to Holyhead with the 14:23 from Birmingham New Street.

Timber to Shotton - remembered by Peter Neve

In the early days of paper production at UPM’s Shotton works, timber from Scotland would be brought in by rail instead of the current system of processing recycled material. These photographs are a reprise of the rail movements associated with the production of paper at the works in the nineteen-nineties. Some of the log trains would be assembled at Huntly in Aberdeenshire. Above, On  11 July 1994 37 196 and 37 188 arrive at Huntly with a rake of empty wagons, which will be shunted into the siding and loaded using a mechanical grab.

Having brought a rake of loaded timber wagons to the exchange sidings at Deeside an unidentified class 47 (still in 'Speedlink' branding) is removing the empty wagons for subsequent dispatch back to Scotland (Would this be via Carlisle?). In the distant background is the Unimog type RRV (Road Rail Vehicle) used for shunting the wagons around UPM’s private rail network.

On 20 February 1990 the Unimog RRV brings some of the loaded wagons into the works, where the logs will be converted into paper.

56 007 brings a rake of empty timber wagons through Penyffordd en route to Scotland on 20th September 1995.

37s circa 1990 - by Richard Spruce

37 142 and D70xx taken at what I think is Cardiff Central .  This was an unusual pairing of a class 37 in BR Engineers Grey livery and a class 35 Hymek.  Perhaps the Hymek was being taken to a local open day.  The 37 was unusual in that it carried black TOPS running numbers on a grey background - not a great combination!

37 058 takes charge of a mixed freight from Ellesmere Port (Associated Octel?) through Helsby.  I believe the striped tankers carried liquid Chlorine to the ICI plant in Runcorn.

Speedlink 37 101 hauls a solitary TTA tanker  from Stanlow oil refinery [probably loco fuel for a depot]  through Helsby.  The locomotive only had a few more years in service before being stored unserviceable in Feb 1994 and was cut up at Immingham in August 2003.

37 154 hauls another set of tankers from Stanlow through platform 4 at Helsby.  This loco carries the distinctive cockney sparrow denoting its home depot of Stratford TMD in the late 1980s.

37 184 takes a set of containers through Crewe.  Having spent much of the 1980s based up in Grangemouth, it was transferred for a year or so to Immingham c.1989-91 which is probably when I took this photo.

37 501 Teeside Steelmaster waits at Carlisle having lost its unique British Steel blue colours for BR trainload metals colours.  This loco still exists today as 37 601 and is owned by Rail Operations Group.

37 682 and sister loco  head a rake of Peakstone PGA hoppers through Crewe, bound probably for Peak Forest.  I recall a similar service, my friends and I referred to as the 'roadstone', occasionally thundering through Helsby late at night, making the decanter on the sideboard shake!

Class 31 identified

We wrote about the above image by Trefor Thompson in the 11 May update: 'A Class 31/4 (which?) in Regional Railways livery on an Up passenger, formed mostly on ex-Network South East coaches, running into Prestatyn station, September 1993.'

Simon Cross writes:

I think it is 31 439 North Yorkshire Moors Railway. I can only think of 4 Regional Railways livered Class 31s, 31410 / 421 / 439 and 31 455. All four were named at some point, but only 455 had cab end numbers; so this can be discounted. I think that this locomotive looks to have a name written on two lines. I can only think of two locomotives which had names in this fashion 31410 and 31439 - which I think were the first two to be done.

 However when you compare the front ends of these two locos, and assuming that nothing else has been altered, they have different positions for the overhead warning line flash. 31 410 is mounted below the line of the cab windows and on the yellow part of the cab whereas 31 439 is mounted above.
Here are I have included links the above locomotives, all taken at the same cab end:-

31410 - Arpley

31 421 - Chester - 16/10/1995

31 439 - Bangor 21/07/1995

31439 - WBQ 07/06/1996

Any comments?

Busy time at Conwy Morfa - by Peter Hanahoe

This is Conwy Morfa on 16 September 1988. The caravans have been cleared away for this section to be built including the tunnel.  Not to worry though, normal caravan park service was restored once everything was in place.  This picture shows 20 040 and 20 078 working a ballast from Penmaenmawr which I have recorded as going to Wigan Springs Branch.  I could be mistaken on that as it is displaying the disc code for the Royal Train. 

Over on the right, fairly recently out of works is RfD 47 605 missing any sector markings, with the Wednesdays only St Helen's to Conwy Morfa sand train which is being unloaded.  Vacuum braked hoppers and gravity discharge, how simple, no engine revving grab to lift stuff out of the top.  In the middle of the temporary sidings, there are piles of steel re-enforcing bar and on the siding next to the main line, there are four 45-ton cement wagons discharging into four big silos.

The cement and the steel would get to Llandudno Junction on the Speedlink from Warrington Arpley and be tripped out from there.  The new-looking tunnel mouth for the A55 to pass through Penmaen Bach is visible; to the left there is a new slate-roofed building by what is now a lay-by but was formerly the site of "The Ship" pub.  The scene is completed by the un-mistakable profile of Puffin Island on a grey horizon.

I have taken this from a temporary bridge placed across the line for construction traffic just a smidge west of the acutely angled bridge the A55 now uses to cross the railway.

From Dave Sallery's archive

20 075 Sir William Cooke and 20 187 Sir Charles Wheatstone and near Ffestiniog  working the 'Trawsfynydd Trekker' railtour on 10 September 1994.  The unusual livery of the 20s was that of British Rail Telecommunications Limited, who at the time were working with the Racal company to lay cables along BR's infrastructure.

47 332 at Cefn-y-Bedd with a Sunday engineering train, 6 February 1994.

Engineering train near Abergele, with 66 586, 30 October 2007.

Shortly after leaving Harlech station, 37 430  Cwmbran is seen heading south on the 17:25 Pwllheli - Birmingham New Street on 3 August 1991. This loco was one of a batch of five Class 37/4s allocated to Cardiff Canton depot which worked most of the Cambrian line loco hauled services.  It was named Cwmbran following the reopening of the station there in 1989.  At this time there were two loco hauled trains each way on Summer Saturdays only.  The castle in the background was one of a ring of castles built by Edward the First in the 12th century to pacify the Welsh.

Railtour help needed - by Richard Putley

Back in 1982 the Severn Valley Railway Association ran two tours to the Ffestinog Railway. Both were formed of 2 x 3 car Class 101 Metro-Cammell DMUs. I travelled out from Kidderminster on the train that ran to Blaenau Ffestinog via Crewe. There we met the passengers from the other train which had run to Porthmadog. There they had caught a Ffestiniog train for the ride up to Blaenau, and they returned to Kidderminster on the train we had come out on.

Meanwhile myself and the others who'd travelled out via Crewe, travelled down to Porthmadog. We also had time to visit the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway before boarding the other train back to Kidderminster. I have not been able to find the date of this tour on Six Bells Junction so I wondered if anyone could help?

Looking back - with Tim Rogers

On 13 May 2004, celebrity loco  67 005 Queen's Messenger found itself working 6E41 (TTHo) 18:25 Penyffordd to Healey Mills coal empties, seen at Wrexham General.

On 7 May 2007, 47 847 passes Gresford with a Compass Tours railtour, 1Z65 06:45 Telford Central to Newcastle...

... with 47 815 Great Western on the rear.  Notice the Mk3 coaches, which at the time were available for hire from a company 'Cargo-D' which operated for a while in that era.

9 May 2008: 57 305 John Tracy passes Bagillt with 390 047 Heaven's Angels in tow as 1R18 05:28 Holyhead to Euston.

20 May 2005: 57 308 Tin Tin,  1R18 05:38 Holyhead to Euston at Flint.

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